Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

SWOT-IT   Leave a comment

SWOT – Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

We know that a SWOT analysis is often used at an organisational level as part of the strategic planning process. But can it be used for the IT department?

I say yes.

It is a way to think about the status of the department (ie. strengths and weaknesses), as well as the environment IT operates within (ie, opportunities and threats).

So, map out your strengths and weaknesses according in areas such as:

  • the structure of the IT department
  • what is being measured and monitored
  • the portfolio of services delivered
  • matters like governance, security and risk

By the end of the process, you’ll have a good understanding of what you are good at, what needs further investment, and what needs to be discarded.

Let’s shift to opportunities and threats.

And don’t forget, the suite of Information Systems that is in use by the organisation is their to assist and support the organisation in its mission. Just like the Sales Department should be aligned to the direction of the company, and HR should be ensuring that staff are contributing to efficient and effective outcomes, so too should IT.

And so we come to the external environment. What are the opportunities and threats that are being presented to other departments and to the organisation as a whole. For example:

  • is the market for the goods and services produced changing?
  • are suppliers demanding linkages with their ERP systems?
  • what smartphone applications are becoming de-riguer within your industry?
  • are there any implications from changes to applicable statutes and laws?

By the end of this second part of the process, you’ll have a better appreciation for how you can better align the IT department to the needs and direction of the business.

SWOT IT. An approach to developing a better IT Strategy.


For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn, or navigate to “The Forward View”, my strategy and futures-centric blog.


Can IT be used to improve productivity?   1 comment

The short answer is yes. Information Technology can be used to improve productivity. But to realize these gains, we first need to understand the components of productivity.

Now, productivity is a measure of how efficiently inputs are turned into outputs. For example, how efficient is the manufacturer’s production line in transforming raw materials into saleable goods? or, how streamlined is the collation of data that goes into all of those reports we produce?

So, what are the factors that affect productivity:

  1. leadership and management
  2. workplace culture
  3. technology
  4. skills
  5. process organisation
  6. networking and collaboration
  7. metrics

So, of these seven aspects of productivity upon which ones can information technology have a bearing.

Skills are a good place to start. A low cost and effective way is training to improve the use of the IT already in place. How well are people using spreadsheets, your line-of-business applications and reporting tools?

Process organisation. Quick wins can be had by using IT to improve the flow of information. Remember, IT is technology for handling information. For example, is data entered twice by different teams? Or, why can’t smartphones be used for inventory management?

Technology. Not just IT, but the innovative use of technology. It is a given that the appropriate investment in technology will pay dividends.

Collaboration. The exchange of ideas and information with others in the industry. Whether they be blogs, social media or smartphone apps, there is an abundance of IT to support and improve collaboration and technology.

Metrics. This is the measurement of, and the reporting on, key characteristics of organisational performance. IT, if used appropriately, can definitely assist in the gathering, analysis and dissemination of critical information.

Leadership. Its all about setting the direction and tone of the organisation. Leadership and management that is open to innovation, open to new, open to change and improvement will see IT as an investment. An investment that leads to both reduction in costs and an increase in profit.

Culture. In this age of a rich information technology society (Facebook, smartphones and WiFi to name three), investment in contemporary IT together with user training and an innovation mindset will lead to productivity improvements.


In summary, the answer is yes. Investment in IT does have a positive impact upon all of the factors of productivity.


For more of what I have to offer, visit Dellium Advisory, follow on Twitter, connect using LinkedIn,

or review my strategy and futures-centric blog.

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Posted April 27, 2015 by terop in ICT Strategy, Innovation, Leadership

IT Spend – cost reduction or profit growth?   1 comment

Through a recent research mini-thesis I began to understand the view of management toward IT within a business. That management had the choice of viewing IT as either a cost centre or a profit centre. As a necessary evil, or as profoundly important to the future of the business.

If IT is a cost centre, well – just focus on efficiencies. Just make sure that you get the best value for money. That each of those computing clock cycles is used optimally and that none is wasted.

IT from this perspective is just a back-office operation. Things just need to run smoothly, efficiently and cheaply.

However, if IT is a profit centre – then focus on growth, on opportunities, on exploiting new ways of doing things. The effort is investment for bigger payoff. Its about using IT to improve, even create, intellectual property. That each of those computing clock cycles goes toward multiplying the effect of the investment.

IT from this perspective is for front-of-house. Its aligned to who you are as a business.

How, may I ask, is IT viewed in your business?

For more, see Dellium Advisory, follow me on Twitter, see my organisational strategy blog Strategy, or connect with me on LinkedIn

Posted May 28, 2014 by terop in ICT Strategy, Innovation, Leadership, Technologies

Is your technology roadmap just a laundry list?   Leave a comment

Is that action plan, that list of IT projects just a “to do” list? Or is the aim to bring some form of strategic alignment between IT and the organization?

What is the thinking that goes into the planning? Is it – well I’ve got to upgrade the Windows Desktops, and I’ve got to look at the BYOD stuff. And oh, we do need to do something about printer management this year.

Or is you plan based on what the organization is doing?

Is the strategic positioning if the organisation focused more on low prices? Well, focus on cost efficiencies. Ask yourself questions around licensing costs, around automation (& possible outsourcing) of housekeeping tasks, around how you can reduce the number of platforms you support.

Or, is the strategic positioning centred on differentiation in the market? So yes, by all means focus on costs – but also pay attention to what makes your organisation different. Is it the sales process – how can sales work smarter? Is it your contact/call centre – how productive & efficient are they? Or is it your reputation in the market – how are you using the data you have?

My advice? Turn the laundry list into pathway of strategic intent. Strategic intent that is aligned with the organisation you support.

For more. Visit Dellium Advisory

Posted February 28, 2014 by terop in ICT Strategy, Innovation, Leadership

Books Read: “Thought Leadership”, Ryde   Leave a comment

Excellent book on thinking and the impact it has on our ability to persuade.

As the sub-title states: “Moving hearts and minds”.

The starting point is our standard thinking repertoire:
– deficit thinking: focus on faults, weaknesses in the target of discussion
– rational thinking: accentuates the logical components to a problem
– sticky thinking: views raised build on previous view
– common sense thinking: problem solving through inexpert knowledge
– binary thinking: mutually exclusive options
– equity thinking: fairness

By and large we default to these standard “thinking engines” due to our automatic responses to various language triggers.

Thus, to change thinking engines we need to use different triggers.

The proper use of thinking channels can be used to create movement, achieve buy-in, release energy and start action. To change channels during the course of a conversation there are three techniques:
– channel flipping
– channel hopping
– channel targetting

Now Ryde proposes shadow thinking channels:
– deficit > strength-based
– rational > feeling
– common-sense > insight
– equity > 360 degree
– binary > re-integrated
– sticky > exit

For me, this is quite a useful tool. It opens up a pathway to get better informed meeting outcomes and decisions in other contexts.

Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Innovation, Leadership, Team Management

Books Read: “The Technology Management Handbook”, Dorf.   Leave a comment

In short, this is a major piece of work. It runs to around a thousand pages. It is quite comprehensive as it comprises essays by authors from a range of specialties.

The Sections are:
– The Technology Manager & The Modern Context
– Knowledge for The Technology Manager
– Tools for The Technology Manager
– Managing The Business Function
– Strategy of The Firm
– Core Relationships for The Technology Manager
– Global Business Management

What is of interest to me is the HR aspect of work. That is, the motivations we have and the design of our jobs.

The questions that must be asked concerning the motivation of technical professionals are:
– what energizes particular behaviours
– what directs or channels these behaviours
– how the behaviours are sustained/altered

Two things of note:
– we must create the kinds of job assignments, careers & work-related conditions that allow professionals to satisfy their individual needs
– the organization designer’s job is to select the least-managerially demanding organization that best fits the “design criteria” appropriate to the situation & strategy

Now, the theories behind all this are:
– cognitive models of motivation:
  – Maslow’s hierachy
  – Herzberg’s 2 factor
  – McClelland’s Theory of Needs
– motivation through design of work
  – equity theory
  – expectancy theory
– Hackman & Oldman suggest 3 task dimensions:
  – skill variety
  – task identity
  – task significance (important)
  – also: autonomy, feedback (weak in IT)
– socio-technical model of job design means that team covers breadth/depth/height of the work rather than individuals:
  – depth of expertise
  – breadth of functional tasks
  – height of leadership activities
– importantly in all of this, the trust & confidence in manager is crucial

This tome certainly covers the full gamut of technology management issues. Issues such as:
– economics & finance
– marketing
– decision and simulation methods
– and so on.

In all quite comprehensive. For me, its almost a must to have as a ready reference

Books Read: “The Six Dilemmas of Collaboration”, Bryant   Leave a comment

Collaboration can be quite an integral factor for some in this networked economy. And as collaboration involves people, there is sure to be conflict.

This book addresses this conflict.

Bryant covers off the five ways that collaboration challenges are faced:
– process
– analysis
– culture
– technology
– structure

Now, as a baseline, there are six dilemmas and six related stances. Bryant’s aim is that strategic intent can be achieved through confrontations that are the result of strategic interaction. Its about the management of relationships.

The dilemmas (and related stances) are:
– threat (blusterer)
– persuasion (oppressed)
– rejection (appeaser)
– positioning (realist)
– co-operation (defector)
– trust (sceptic)

The thinking here is best quoted from the book:
“once characters have adoped clear positions in a collaborative situation they will find themselves at either a Committment Point or a Crisis Point. In either case they face dilemmas. At the former they will have to deal with Trust & Co-operation dilemmas; at the latter with dilemmas of Threat, Persuasion, Rejection and Positioning. To do so convincingly, their own preferences must shift so that any associated threats and promises become willing. Such transformations are accompanied by negative or positive emotions, respectively, toward the other characters. At these dramatic moments, driven by their emotions, characters may well act irrationality and in accordance with the new preferences towards which they are inclining. To handle the transitory dissonance between desire and action, characters will tend to reframe issues in such a way that their newly adoped positions can be supported by rational argument, free of paradox. The way that any individual deals with this whole process is characteristically distinctive and can be thought of as representing their ‘personality’.”

He uses both drama theory and game theory as a basis for his approach.

For me, not being an HR specialist, these frameworks are both illuminating and instructional to how difficulties in collaboration can be managed.

Books Read: “The Leaders Guide to Radical Management”, Denning   Leave a comment

Or as the sub-title succintly puts it: reinventing the workplace for the 21st Century.

This book is an easy read, and full of straightfoward principles.

The primary thesis here is that radical management is about generating in-demand output that involves people with a common passion and who are good at what they do.

And at the outset he quotes the American philosopher to lay a foundation for the aim of the book:
  “If a factory is torn down but the rationality which produced it is left standing, then that rationality will simply produce another factory.

Its about continuous innovation, and whilst the principles he puts forth have been separately “discovered” before he states that its through the interlocking nature of them as a whole that will have great impact.

These principles are:
1. focus work on delighting the client
2. do work through self-organising teams
3. do work in client-driven iterations
4. deliver value to clients each iteration
5. be totally open about impediments to improvement
6. create a context for continuous self-improvement by the team itself
7. communicate through interactive conversations

For me, it is about the client. And although not every client would welcome it, incremental innovation does indeed have benefits to both the provider and the client.

Books Read: “The Frontiers of Management”, Drucker   Leave a comment

Drucker, in this series of wide ranging essays, postulates two things:
1. the future is being made by totally anonymous people
2. change is opportunity

His aim for this book is to provide knowledge, insight, foresight and competence. Plus create vision.

One of his chapters is on white-collar productivity. He posits three measurements for this class of productivity:
1. length of time taken to bring product out of development into the market
2. the number of new products and services introduced to the market in a given period
3. number of supporting staff, including levels of management, for a given output

The comparison is with blue-collar organisations. Blue-collar output is roughly proportional to the number of staff, whereas white-collar output can/should be inversely proportional.

Other thoughts sprinkled throughout the book are:
– information-based organisations rest on responsibility
– modern leadership is one that respects performance, but requires self-discipline & upward responsibility
– innovation requires backing people, rather than the projects (especially early in the life of the innovation)

For me, this collection of Drucker’s thoughts is mostly of informational value. However, the insights into white-collar productivity (ie, IT) are most relevant. The basic implication is that as time goes on, IT staff should be able to handle more systems (with the assumption that existing systems become more efficient & effective).

Books Read: “The Facilitative Leader”, Ray   Leave a comment

This book comes from the heart of Glenn Ray. With 27 years as a member of commercial organisations and a further 15 as an organisational development consultant, plus the study he has undertaken, Glen knows what goes into successful leadership.

Facilitative leadership is successful leadership.

And the qualities of a facilitative leader are:
– relationship building
– coaching
– learning
– problem solving
– action planning
– implementation tracking

And there are 5 modes that the leaders functions in:
– enabler of change
– respectful communicator
– developer of people and teams
– master of problem-solving tools
– manager of conflict

And yes, Glenn does use various models (ie. the Thomas-Kilman Conflict Model, various brainstorming techniques, and so on) but at its heart the facilitative leader displays servant leadership.

For me, this book highlights the way to get the best out of those you are leading.

Posted February 21, 2013 by terop in Books Read, Leadership, Organisational Development